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10 tips for Home Owners building or renovating

Having your home built or renovated is a significant event in your life. It involves a considerable investment of emotions, time and money. The process can be enjoyable for you and stress free provided that you communicate properly with the builder so that you both understand each others expectations. Following are 10 tips to help you in the process:

  1. Ask the builder for names of referees and meet with the referees to view the building works. Make sure you ask the referees questions like – did the builder finish on time?, did the builder communicate well with you?, did the builder manage your expectations in relation to costs.
  2. Check with Fair Trading NSW (or relevant bodies in other states) to make sure that the builder’s licence is current, that the licence covers the works that you want carried out and to check whether there are any claims against the builder.
  3. Find out whether they will arrange for an architect or draftsperson to prepare plans for you or whether you will need to arrange for those.
  4. Don’t enter into a building Contract until you have the detailed plans. If you don’t, any additions to the plans will be variations to the Contract and will increase the cost.
  5. Ask the builder for evidence of Home Building Compensation Fund Insurance before you enter into the Contract.
  6. Decide whether you will check on the progress of the works with the builder during the course of the works or whether you will engage an architect or someone else to administer the contract for you.
  7. If you are relying upon funds from a financial institution to pay the builder, make sure that the payment arrangements are included in the contract
  8. Get legal advice on the Contract before signing it so that you will understand what is included in the Contract whether it is cost plus or fixed price and how variations, delays, extensions of time and liquidated damages work. Also to make sure that is complies with the Home Building Act NSW.
  9. Agree with the builder on the way that you will communicate with each other during the works eg: site meeting, email, phone etc.
  10. If you get into a disagreement with the builder about defective works seek legal advice first, do not end the contract or withhold payments. If you do this without first getting advice it may be you that is in breach of the contract and who will be facing a claim for damages by the builder.

For further information, contact the Commercial Litigation Team